Alliant Techsystems Aids Antares Rocket Launch

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Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) continues to provide support for several space missions of Orbital Sciences Corporation (ORB). Currently, Alliant has delivered the second stage motor, CASTOR 30B, to Orbital Sciences for its Antares rocket, under the latter's second National Aeronautics and Space Administration (:NASA) Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The latest launch was the second of the eight Antares cargo delivery missions to the ISS under Orbital Sciences' CRS contract. Alliant’s Defense and Commercial division of the Aerospace Group was in charge of the delivery.

The CASTOR 30B motor is the improvised version of Alliant's CASTOR 30 motor, which was utilized for previous two Antares missions. The purpose of manufacturing the CASTOR 30B motor is to raise the payload capability of the Antares vehicle. The new motor is longer with lesser internal insulation thickness. In addition, the CASTOR 30 motor offers 25% more thrust than the previous ones.

Alliant has a strong business alliance with Orbital Sciences and delivers products as well as services to the latter's several aerospace programs. Alliant will introduce CASTOR 30XL motor for Orbital Sciences' Antares rockets in the future. The CASTOR 30XL motor will replace the existing CASTOR 30 and CASTOR 30B motors, thereby increasing carrying capacity.

Apart from winning contracts from Orbital Sciences, Alliant also supplies different products and services to several aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT). In Jun 2014, the company has received a contract from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, a unit of Lockheed Martin, to provide the UltraFlex solar arrays to the latter.

To focus more on aerospace operations and improve the product portfolio, Alliant announced on Apr 29, 2014 that its board of directors has unanimously approved a plan to form two independent public entities. Per the plan, Alliant will merge its Aerospace and Defense Groups with Orbital Sciences, which will act as Orbital ATK, Inc. In addition, Alliant will spin-off its outdoor sports operations and the division will be operated as an independent company. If approved, both the entities will concentrate on their respective operations and redeploy resources as per their future business strategies.

Alliant currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, another better-ranked stock in the same industry is CAE Inc. (CAE), carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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